You may not want to get divorced on December 31st

The advancement or postponement of the date of divorce by a single day at year-end can make a big difference in the amount of your tax bill – waiting could save you thousands of dollars. If you get divorced before the end of the year, even if it’s on December 31st, then you will be considered as being unmarried for the whole year and be forced to file single or head of household. There generally is a significant tax advantage to filing a joint return (although in some cases it may be better to file as a single). You may want to have your attorney postpone that year end court date, or have him or her ask the judge to delay entry of the divorce judgment until the new year. As part of your settlement, you can provide that you will file a joint return with your spouse and equally split the refund.

If you and your spouse decide to file separate returns while you’re still married, there is there are some important tax considerations to keep in mind. If your spouse itemized deductions, you’ll have a standard deduction of zero. Therefore, if the other spouse itemized his, then you should itemize deductions as well. If you pay deductible expenses out of separate funds, then you are entitled to claim those deductions. If expenses are paid from joint funds, the deduction is generally equally divided between you and your spouse.

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